Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 121, Issue 4, pp 391–400

Age-related performance of human subjects on saccadic eye movement tasks

  • D. P. Munoz
  • J. R. Broughton
  • J. E. Goldring
  • I. T. Armstrong
RESEARCH ARTICLE

DOI: 10.1007/s002210050473

Cite this article as:
Munoz, D., Broughton, J., Goldring, J. et al. Exp Brain Res (1998) 121: 391. doi:10.1007/s002210050473

Abstract 

We measured saccadic eye movements in 168 normal human subjects, ranging in age from 5 to 79 years, to determine age-related changes in saccadic task performance. Subjects were instructed to look either toward (pro-saccade task) or away from (anti-saccade task) an eccentric target under different conditions of fixation. We quantified the percentage of direction errors, the time to onset of the eye movement (saccadic reaction time: SRT), and the metrics and dynamics of the movement itself (amplitude, peak velocity, duration) for subjects in different age groups. Young children (5–8 years of age) had slow SRTs, great intra-subject variance in SRT, and the most direction errors in the anti-saccade task. Young adults (20–30 years of age) typically had the fastest SRTs and lowest intra-subject variance in SRT. Elderly subjects (60–79 years of age) had slower SRTs and longer duration saccades than other subject groups. These results demonstrate very strong age-related effects in subject performance, which may reflect different stages of normal development and degeneration in the nervous system. We attribute the dramatic improvement in performance in the anti-saccade task that occurs between the ages of 5–15 years to delayed maturation of the frontal lobes.

Key words Saccade Visual fixation Anti-saccade Reaction times Express saccade Frontal cortex Aging Senescence 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. P. Munoz
    • 1
  • J. R. Broughton
    • 1
  • J. E. Goldring
    • 1
  • I. T. Armstrong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6 e-mail: doug@biomed.QueensU.CA, Tel.: +1-613-545-2111, Fax: +1-613-545-6840CA